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General Assembly 2013

The Moderator of the General Assembly, the Rt Rev Lorna Hood. Picture by Youngmedia.
The Moderator of the General Assembly, the Rt Rev Lorna Hood. Picture by Youngmedia.

 

Saturday May 18 2013

General Assembly 2013: Day 1

The opening day of the General Assembly of 2013 was marked, in the morning, by a warm welcome for the new Moderator, the Rt Rev Lorna Hood; and, in the afternoon, by diving straight into some fairly dense discussion of church finance and law.

The proposed budget, and the proposed changes to for ministers and employees pensions (under which the various existing pension schemes, which are in considerable deficit, are to be closed and replaced with contributory schemes) were accepted.

The creation of a new theological forum to take over responsibility for working on doctrine for the church was approved. This removes responsibility for doctrine from the Mission and Discipleship Council and places it within the Department of the General Assembly.

The Legal Questions Committee was instructed to look into the implications of ministers no longer solemnising civil weddings.

Finally, the Church of Scotland said goodbye to an old friend: the word ‘anent’ is no longer to be used in the names of Acts and Regulations.

Earlier, the opening of the Assembly passed in the usual warm manner.

The opening hymn was Psalm 121, ‘I to the hills will lift mine eyes’. The outgoing Moderator, the (then) Rt Rev Albert Bogle, said: “It’s time to look beyond where we are, time to look to the hills, time to look to the skies and expect the presence of God with us.”

There was the usual incoming/outgoing Moderator mutual appreciation society, with Albert reminding his successor, the (now) Rt Rev Lorna Hood, that they first met in the library of Trinity College in 1975: “I was nervous, it was my first time in the college, I didn’t know anyone. You reassured me, told me everything would be alright. That has been the hallmark of your long ministry – looking out for others and reassuring them all will be well.”

He gave her a wooden cross, which had been given to him by one of his Elders last year.

Lorna in turn told him that the stolen ring and cross, which were taken from his bags at Edinburgh Airport in April, ‘... Could be replaced, but your memories are quite unique’

She said: “I truly hope and pray I will represent the church and all it stands for to the best of my ability, entirely dependent on God.”

Lorna, the first female serving parish minister to be appointed Moderator, also paid tribute to the Rev Dr Mary Levison (née Lusk) who first petitioned the General Assembly for admission to the Ministry 50 years ago this year, and other pioneers of female ministry.

Anniversaries also figured highly in the Lord High Commissioner’s speech: the Livingstone and St Columba milestones the church is celebrating this year, as well as the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in the US, and the 50th of Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech. Baron Selkirk praised the church’s efforts on modern day slavery, human trafficking: “Human rights are universal and there is a continuing need to champion them.”

Ceremonials out of the way, the report of the Bible Society featured stories of successes in Cambodia and Iraq, and celebrations of the 100 millionth Bible printed at the Amity Foundation in China.